Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, the Beatles were singing ‘All you need is love’ on the wireless, mini-skirts were the latest happening fashion and the first colour TV programmes had just aired. The year was 1967 – a year which for many was the happiest of their life as they tied the knot and embarked on married life.
Fifty years on from what became known as the Summer of Love, Ripon Cathedral is inviting couples, from across the diocese and beyond, celebrating their Golden Wedding, or an even longer time together, to renew their vows in a unique and joyful service on June 11 at 3.30pm.
Last year’s Golden Wedding Service attracted nearly 100 couples. Each ‘bride’ is presented with a beautiful gold corsage. “It is one of the happiest services this cathedral does,” said organiser Linda Bennett, “It’s a service of joy for the celebrating couple and their families in a truly wonderful setting.”
One of the couples attending is Barry and Eleanor Kay. The former Mayor and Mayoress of Ripon are celebrating 51 years of marriage, having been married in 1966.
The Kays have two children and three grandsons. When asked about the secret of their successful marriage Barry said: “My wife’s patience and give and take and we are surrounded by a happy family.” Eleanor added: “We share common interests and yet have things that we do on our own.”
Anne and Malcolm Race, from Hexham in Northumberland, were married in 1963. They will be attending for the third time. Anne said: “I think it is really lovely. The fact that we keep coming back shows that. It is a lovely family service and a beautiful memory.”
On being married for over half a century she commented: “We’ve both been church goers and I think you do hold marriage in sanctity. If you feel that it is a meaningful contract you try very hard to make it work.”
The first such service was held in Ripon some 20 years ago. This year’s event will be attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mr Barry Dodd CBE, representing the Queen, and the mayors of local communities. The Dean of Ripon, The Very Rev John Dobson will take the service. He said: “I look forward to celebrating with all those couples who are attending the service, and there is clearly much to celebrate. The Golden Wedding Service is always a joyful occasion in the cathedral’s calendar. It gives an opportunity to reflect on how stable, loving marriages that have come through the ups and downs of life benefit the whole community.”
A celebratory cake is baked for the service and refreshments are served afterwards.
Couples are invited to bring family and friends and tickets are free. They can be obtained from Linda Bennett at The Chapter House, Ripon Cathedral, Ripon, HG4 1QT.